Church Commissioner Questions: serious youth violence, clergy recruitment in London, cathedrals and the economy, employee pay gap, responsible investments, mobile phone masts, Christian persecution

On 20th June 2019 MPs asked questions of Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, the Second Church Estates Commissioner. Questions were asked about serious youth violence, clergy recruitment in London, the contribution of cathedrals to the local economy, employee pay gap, responsible investments, mobile phone masts, and persecution of Christians:


The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Serious Youth Violence

Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con)
1. What steps the Church of England is taking to help tackle serious youth violence; and if she will make a statement. [911477]

Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab)
7. What steps the Church of England is taking to help tackle serious youth violence; and if she will make a statement. [911484]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): The Church was represented at the knife crime summit organised by the Prime Minister at No. 10 earlier this year, and the General Synod will be debating this subject at its session next month. There is no question but that this issue is of the utmost seriousness, as too many young lives are being lost.

Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: serious youth violence, clergy recruitment in London, cathedrals and the economy, employee pay gap, responsible investments, mobile phone masts, Christian persecution”

House of Commons passes Church Representation and Ministers Measure

On 18th June 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, introduced the Church Representation and Ministers Measure to the House of Commons. The Measure was passed by MPs and will receive Royal Assent.

Dame Caroline Spelman: I beg to move,spelman170119c

That the Church Representation and Ministers Measure (HC 2167), passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for her Royal Assent in the form in which it was laid before Parliament.

The Measure and the new rules it contains emerged from the work of a simplification task group established by the Archbishops’ Council. The task group’s role was to bring forward proposals to remove constraints on the mission and growth of the Church of England resulting from existing legislation and processes. It recommended three major ways in which that could be achieved. First, those processes needed to be made less burdensome to the clergy and laity. Secondly, parishes should be given much greater flexibility over their constitutional arrangements, so that they can operate in the way that is most effective for the mission, life and work of the local church. Thirdly, the administrative burdens for those involved in running multi-parish benefices, especially in a rural context where the number of parishes in a benefice can be considerable, needed to be radically reduced.

Continue reading “House of Commons passes Church Representation and Ministers Measure”

Church Commissioners Written Answer: Christ Church Oxford

On 11th March the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Frank Field MP about Christ Church College:

Frank Field (Birkenhead)[N]: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, when she expects the internal investigation into complaints against the Dean of Christ Church college Oxford to conclude. Continue reading “Church Commissioners Written Answer: Christ Church Oxford”

Bishop of Portsmouth on women’s equality in the Church of England and the distance still to travel

On 7th March 2019 the Government Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford led a debate in the House of Lords, “That this House takes note of International Women’s Day and the United Kingdom’s role in advancing gender equality globally.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of PortsmouthMy Lords, I rise with some caution, conscious of the considerable risks as a man speaking on International Women’s Day. But dwelling in ambiguity is perhaps the lot of those occupying these Benches. I am acutely aware, for instance, that as a Lord spiritual speaking on defence matters, I interest myself in swords and in ploughshares.

It was sporting those two hats that I recently watched the RAF’s current recruitment advertisement. Its images depict the reality of women in a service in which every role is open to everyone. We see women readying themselves for combat, as engineers and pilots. The voiceover, alas, articulates a more familiar reality, in which women are told, predominantly by men, that their concerns centre on lip gloss, skincare and the contents of their wardrobe. The disparity between voice and image strikingly expresses the distance travelled, but also the many miles we have yet to traverse. I sensed some of this while listening to this week’s Questions and debates in your Lordships’ House. We have reflected this week on FGM, on consent, on pay and abuse, on how much has been done, on how much we want to do and on how much there is to do.

Church Commissioner Questions – rural parish clergy, metal theft, bell ringing, gravestones

On 21st February 2019 questions were put by MPs to the Church Commissioners in the House of Commons, on rural parish clergy, metal theft, bell ringing, and gravestones.

In the absence of the Second Church Estates Commissioner questions were answered by the Leader of the House, Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP. As Lord President of the Council, the Leader of the House is one of the State Office Holders who are ex-officio Church Commissioners.  Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions – rural parish clergy, metal theft, bell ringing, gravestones”

Bishop of Chichester on care and support for those in the workplace with a terminal illness

On 17th December 2018 Lord Balfe led a debate in the House of Lords on the question, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps, if any, they will take to prevent workers being dismissed from their jobs following diagnosis of a terminal illness.” The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Martin Warner, spoke in the debate that followed:

The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, I greatly welcome this debate, and thank the noble Lord, Lord Balfe, for bring this important matter to our attention. I also welcome the TUC’s support of the courageous work of Jacci Woodcock in highlighting the issue, on the basis of her own experience.

As a trustee of the diocese of Chichester, I share responsibility for employing nearly 100 staff but also for the care of some 400 clergy. These clergy are office-holders, not employees, and many live in accommodation they occupy by virtue of their office. A terminal illness for one of those clergy, as for anybody else, carries the prospect of multiple concerns, but especially for those dependent on them. The loss of income and a home are primary concerns, alongside the personal challenges of failing health and dependence on others—often difficult for those more familiar with caring for others. The potential loss of their home goes right to the heart of the fear of death and the implications for a family—particularly if there are issues such as schooling and the future of children—that a terminal illness brings. When a family is most challenged, networks of social relationships are immensely sensitive. Continue reading “Bishop of Chichester on care and support for those in the workplace with a terminal illness”

Church Measures on buildings, pensions, ecumenism and miscellaneous provisions, approved by House of Commons

Spelman CCQs120718cOn the 11th December 2018 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP introduced  four Church of England Measures to the House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee. The Committee approved the Measures following discussion.

Third Delegated Legislation Committee
[Stewart Hosie in the Chair]

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Ecumenical Relations Measure, Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure, Church Property Measure and Church of England Pensions Measure

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the Ecumenical Relations Measure (HC 1687).

The Chair: With this it will be convenient to consider the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure (HC 1688), Church Property Measure (HC 1689) and Church of England Pensions Measure (HC 1690).

Dame Caroline Spelman: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hosie. To some colleagues, this may be an unusual format for the Committee. I would like to explain that the Measures that we are considering have been through the Ecclesiastical Committee, which is composed of Members from both Houses, is cross-party and is chaired by Lady Butler-Sloss. On 24 October, we went through all these Measures in considerable detail, and I have the report of that careful scrutiny, so I hope that today we may be able to deal with the Measures expeditiously.

Continue reading “Church Measures on buildings, pensions, ecumenism and miscellaneous provisions, approved by House of Commons”